Contact co-production part of two-year Performance Live strand of programmes for BBC Two

Contact co-production part of two-year Performance Live strand of programmes for BBC Two

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We are thrilled to announce today that our co-production I told my mum I was going on an R.E. trip... with 20 Stories High will be part of BBC Two's Performance Live programmes. For more information, please see the press release below:

Press Release

Announced today are eight new commissions and four commissions-in-development for Performance Live, a new strand of programmes generated through a partnership between Arts Council England, BBC Arts and Battersea Arts Centre.

Performance Live is a risk-taking and pioneering new strand of programmes that brings some of the most innovative and exciting artists working in performance in England today to prime time Saturday night television on BBC Two in 2017 and 2018.

Performance Live gives artists, producers and arts organisations from around the country the opportunity to create, develop and produce their own programmes, opening up the process of making television. Each programme sees artists sharing their unique approach to live performance and exploring different ways to connect with a television audience.

Performance Live grew out of Live from Television Centre, a programme broadcast live on BBC Four in November 2015, made up of eclectic 30 minute theatre-shorts by independent artists. Having produced Live from Television Centre, Battersea Arts Centre is proud to be Strand Producer of Performance Live, with the organisation directly producing two programmes in the strand, whilst providing support and mentoring to each new commission, helping to put artists in the lead.

Performance Live launched in October 2016 on BBC Two with a programme by Battersea Arts Centre and Kate Tempest, who gave a blistering performance of her genre-defying poem Let Them Eat Chaos, recorded as live in south London’s Rivoli Ballroom.

Performance Live Commissions:

Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere by Young Vic with Paul Mason (London)

Flood: To The Sea by Slung Low for Hull UK City of Culture 2017 (Hull)

Get A Round by Eggs Collective (Manchester)

You Can’t Go Back by Ross Sutherland & Loop Projects Ltd. (Essex)

I told my mum I was going on an R.E. trip… by 20 Stories High & Contact (Liverpool/Manchester)

Winged Bull in the Elephant Case by Studio Wayne McGregor & Robin Friend (North Wales/London)

Taxi Tales by Tamasha & Ishy Din (Middlesbrough/London)

East Wall by East London Dance, Hofesh Shechter Company, Historic Royal Palaces, LIFT & Illuminations (London) 


Performance Live Commissions-in-Development:
Further commissions are currently in development with Manchester International Festival, Akala and Touretteshero. Daniel Kitson is also working on an idea with Battersea Arts Centre.

Further details on all commissions and those in development can be found below.
Transmission details will be announced in due course.

Performance Live seeks to put artists in the driving seat by developing new television and digital production capacity, around the country, as a positive legacy for the future. Commissions announced today span theatre, dance, spoken word, live art and everything in-between to shift perceptions about live performance for television.

Eggs Collective said: “Being part of Performance Live lets us re-think how live performance might be broadcast, to take risks and to play with the medium and engage the imaginations of a wider audience.”

Robin Friend said: “Performance Live gives us the extraordinary opportunity to realise a vision that many people would say cannot be done! We can push the boundaries of what is deemed possible and create a unique piece of television that makes the audience question what it is they are experiencing.”

Performance Live is an exemplar project for the Culture UK initiative; announced today by Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall; demonstrating collaborative and artist-led practice.

David Jubb, Artistic Director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre; said:

“Having produced Live From Television Centre with Gecko, Richard DeDomenici, Common Wealth, Touretteshero and Company Three in 2015 and the first Performance Live programme with Kate Tempest in 2016, it is a big privilege to support artists, producers and arts organisations, who we massively admire, to go on their own journey to produce new television programmes.

“Live performance for TV has too often been sanitised in recent decades, I hope that Performance Live brings back risk-taking and adventure to mainstream television audiences and kick-starts a debate about how we further decentralise the means of production and hand over the reins to independent artists.”

Neil Darlison, Director of Theatre at Arts Council England; said:

“This exciting partnership between the Arts Council of England, the BBC and Battersea Arts Centre seeks to interrogate new and fresh ways that live performance can be presented on Television, as well as furnishing artists and companies in the performing arts sector with the skills to translate and adapt what they do for a new TV/digital audience. We have assembled some great companies from all around the country to pioneer this for us and we are all eager to see what emerges!”

Jonty Claypole, Director of Arts at the BBC; said:

“The UK is home to the greatest, most varied and innovative artistic practice in the world. The projects announced by Performance Live and The Space today are all about connecting audiences with those artists in as direct a manner as possible. Together they have been groundbreaking pathfinders for the launch of Culture UK today - a collaboration between the BBC and major funders that aims, in part, to develop this way of working right across the UK."

Performance Live Commissions

Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere
Young Vic with Paul Mason (London)

Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere is about revolution. Written and performed by Paul Mason, former Economics Editor of Channel 4 News and BBC’s Newsnight, the play traces how we got from the optimism of the Arab Spring and the origins of the Occupy Movement to Trump’s election and the present day.

Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere is directed by David Lan and performed by Paul Mason, Khalid Abdalla, Sirine Saba and Lara Sawalha. It is directed for TV by Tim van Someren and produced by the Young Vic in partnership with Totally Theatre Productions.

Flood: To The Sea

Slung Low for Hull UK City of Culture 2017 (Hull)
Flood: To The Sea is a play in which the English become refugees. One day it starts to rain and no-one knows why. And it doesn’t stop. Far out on the North Sea a fisherman raises a girl in his net, miraculously alive from the deep sea. Is she one of the migrants now washing up on English shores? Or someone sent for some higher purpose?

Set in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, which has seen England engulfed by water, this play asks a simple question: what if the fleeing masses from our TV screens and Twitter feeds, in their boats and their orange lifejackets, had English accents?

Flood: To The Sea is the third instalment of an extraordinary year-long epic commissioned for Hull UK City of Culture 2017 that will be told online, live in Hull and on BBC television. It is created by the ground-breaking Leeds-based theatre company Slung Low, directed by artistic director Alan Lane and written by award-winning playwright James Phillips.

Get A Round

Eggs Collective (Manchester)
Set in a city that’s not shy of a soap opera, Get A Round is broadcast from a much loved, real pub in Manchester. Watch friendships, politics and pints collide between the jukebox, the bar and the ladies’ loos as Eggs Collective, a trio of spirited friends hell-bent on having a good time, wonder whether a big night out can save the world.  Expect the spontaneous energy of TFI Friday, the grand musical numbers of Top of the Pops and all the drama of the Rovers Return on Christmas Day.

Filmed in front of a live audience, Get A Round is a call for community in a divide and conquer world; a homage to the boozer and the glory of finding salvation around sticky tables and ripped open crisp packets.

Get A Round is produced by Manchester theatre company Eggs Collective.

You Can’t Go Back

Ross Sutherland & Loop Projects Ltd. (Essex)
On October 7th 1997, Ross Sutherland was sat watching EastEnders with his parents. At 8:09pm, just as Pauline Fowler arrived at Ruth Fowler’s door holding a jigsaw, so was Ross’s friend James pulling up outside his house in Essex. Ross got up from the TV, climbed into James’s car and the pair headed off towards Colchester. Fifteen minutes later, just as Joe Wicks proposed to Sarah Hills, Ross and James’s car left the motorway, careering into a road-sign.

Now, twenty years later, Ross returns to his family home to revisit the most important day of his teenage life. There’s no such thing as time travel, but maybe television is the next best thing. Ross plans to re-screen the episode of EastEnders that he walked out on two decades earlier. Aided by musician Jonnie Common, Ross will remix Albert Square into a brand-new audio-visual poem on nostalgia and loss.

Once upon a time, if a poet wanted to write about the vastness of time, he would write about a mountain or an ocean. Today, the soap opera is the perfect metaphor. Forever changing, yet forever the same.

“We came up with this idea specifically for Performance Live. For me, it still retains the spontaneity and ‘liveness’ of theatre, but I don’t think it would work as a piece onstage. Or in any other time-slot, or platform, or type of media, for that matter. The story is so closely connected to this single episode of EastEnders that it really has to be told on EastEnders’s turf, rather than by bringing a screen into a theatre. It’s a story about the passing of time, and how, despite the way that modern media can be stored and endlessly replayed, the real world never lets us go back. So we wanted people to experience the piece at home just as it unfolds for us. Then once it happens, it’s gone.” - Ross Sutherland, writer.

You Can’t Go Back is written by experimental Scottish poet Ross Sutherland (Party Trap, Stand By For Tape Back-Up) and is produced by Loop Projects Ltd. It is directed by Charlie Lyne (writer and director of Fear Itself for BBC iPlayer).

I told my mum I was going on an R.E. trip…

20 Stories High & Contact (Liverpool & Manchester)
I told my mum I was going on an R.E. trip… explores one of society’s last taboos: abortion. With 1 in 3 women in the UK having had an abortion, this honest, frank and moving production uses verbatim interview material, song and spoken word to portray the stories of real women and their experiences. I told my mum I was going on an R.E. trip…  is the result of 2 years of development, based on the interviews and opinions of over 50 participants including young women, boyfriends, parents, doctors and campaigners. Told through the voices of four young women, it starts conversations and provokes thought in an engaging and often humerous way, without ever losing sight of the serious issues it describes. This piece is as far from a run-of-the-mill sexual health lecture as is imaginable.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to get this subject matter out to an even bigger audience. The experience of having an abortion is such a taboo in society, and many women feel that they have to keep it a secret. We are pleased to be able to share these stories far and wide, and help combat the stigma around something that happens to 1 in 3 British women in their lifetimes.” – Julia Samuels, Director

I told my mum I was going on an R.E. trip… is a co-production between award-winning theatre company 20 Stories High and Contact Theatre.

Winged Bull in the Elephant Case

Studio Wayne McGregor & Robert Friend (North Wales/London)
Inspired by real life events, Winged Bull in the Elephant Case follows the journey of a National Gallery painting that has taken human form, as it tries to save its friends and get back home to London from a slate mine in North Wales.

For five years during WW2, the National Gallery’s entire collection lived in a mine called Manod in the heart of Snowdonia. Filmed at the actual slate mine and using a combination of dance, sound, animation, parkour and sculpture, this immersive piece of television considers protection and risk, and the lengths we will go to preserve the arts and our cultural heritage.

Winged Bull in the Elephant Case is produced by Studio Wayne McGregor. Written and directed by Robin Friend and choreographed by Wayne McGregor CBE.

The music is composed by Ben Frost.

Taxi Tales
Tamasha & Ishy Din (Middlesbrough/London)
On the way to a party, in an unfamiliar city, step out at the station and jump into a minicab…

What ensues is a surprising immersive theatrical journey through Middlesbrough, in and out of the cabs of three very different taxi drivers. Their stories uncover what lies beneath the surface of a post-industrial Northern town and unfold into a state-of-the-nation tale like no other.

The show features performances from real-life Taxi drivers: A young British-Pakistani entrepreneur who believes that immigrants have always been enterprising by nature, a local man who used to work in construction on towering glass buildings down in London and an older seasoned driver who is in love with his job… until the day he falls out of love.

Each ride presents a micro-world of each driver’s taxi; sometimes the ride is comfortable and sometimes it is punctuated by uncertainty.

It is strange how journeys can be - in between cab rides, a series of incidents and encounters occur that couldn’t be coincidence - could they?

“For us the most exciting thing about being part of Performance Live is the groundbreaking nature of the two disciplines of theatre and television coming together to think about producing something in a new way: A TV show that goes beyond simple capture of theatrical performance and re-creates and re-imagines it for the small screen. Taxi Tales delves under the surface of a city in the UK and dramatises it in a way that, we hope, will be fresh and revealing for TV audiences.” - Tamasha

Taxi Tales is a collaboration between award-winning taxi driver-turned-playwright and screenwriter Ishy Din and London-based touring theatre company, Tamasha. Tamasha is Britain’s leading touring theatre company producing critically-acclaimed new plays that put diverse artists centre-stage. During their 26 year history successes like East is East, Snookered and Made in India have won acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

East Wall 

East London Dance, Hofesh Shechter Company, Historic Royal Palaces, LIFT & Illuminations  (London)
Choreographer Hofesh Shechter creates a new work in one of the world’s great landmark buildings. Leading a legion of choreographers, young dancers, musicians and community participants, Hofesh and the ensemble will animate the West Moat of the Tower of London with a thrilling high energy performance. As the sun sets over the Thames, the sounds, energy, and people of East London will fill this bastion of power, in a vivid and timely celebration of London’s diverse communities.

Hofesh’s trademark pulsating musical score will be played live on electric guitars, drums and by military bands, choirs, rappers, spoken word artists and others from multiple locations including on top of the ramparts and towers.

The project is inspired by themes of migration, cultural identity and displacement, and will celebrate East London’s rich cultural heritage in its participants, music and choreographic elements.

Each night, 2000 people will be able to experience the live event in the shadows of one of London’s most iconic landmarks. 

East Wall is a partnership between East London Dance, Hofesh Shechter Company, Historic Royal Palaces and LIFT and is co-produced for broadcast by Illuminations. It will take place in July 2018.

Performance Live Commissions-in-Development:

The Ruins of Empires
Akala (London)

Akala presents: The Ruins of Empires…The story follows 'The Knowledge Seeker' through the course of human history, in an attempt to explore the rise and fall of empires. Produced by Greenacre Films/Immovable. This event promises to take viewers on a trip through the revolution of revelation to present a multi-sensory narrative encompassing performance, projection and video mapping.

Me, My Mouth and I

Touretteshero (London)
Touretteshero are developing Me, My Mouth, And I, following the success of their multi-award-winning stage show, Backstage in Biscuit Land and subsequent Broadcast from Biscuit Land, shown on BBC 4 as part of Live From Television Centre in November 2015.

Artist, writer and activist Jess Thom has Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurological condition that means she makes movements and noises she cannot control, called tics.

Me, My Mouth, And I charts her journey as she prepares for her role as Mouth in Samuel Beckett’s short play Not I  - a journey of discovery about the text, Beckett, identity, and ultimately about what it is like to be a disabled performer. 

Further commissions are currently in development with Manchester International Festival and Daniel Kitson, who is working on an idea with Battersea Arts Centre.


Notes to Editors

Battersea Arts Centre
Battersea Arts Centre is a public space where people come together to be creative, see a show, explore the local heritage, play or relax. The organisation’s purpose is to inspire people, to take creative risks, to shape the future. 

Battersea Arts Centre encourages people to test and develop new ideas with members of the public – a process called Scratch. Scratch is used by artists to make theatre, by young people to develop entrepreneurial ideas and as a helpful process for anyone who wants to get creative.

The area of South West London and the old town hall in which Battersea Arts Centre is based, are rich in heritage. The organisation is also custodian of the Wandsworth Collection of historical artefacts, using creativity to explore the past and imagine the future.

Scratch has been adopted as far afield as Sydney and New York and shows and projects developed by people at Battersea Arts Centre travel across the UK and the world. The organisation has successfully sparked new approaches to creativity across the globe.

Each year Battersea Arts Centre:

  • Welcomes over 160,000 people to its building
  • Inspires the local community to get creative, including 3000 young people
  • Works with over 400 artists to put on over 800 performances and tour at least 10 shows and projects

Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

BBC Arts
The BBC has an ongoing commitment to Arts programming ‘the greatest commitment to arts for a generation’ as announced by the Director General in 2014. The BBC aims to provide the broadest range and depth of music and arts programmes across television, radio and online.  The BBC creates non-commercial partnerships with the arts sector that go beyond broadcast, from sharing expertise, to encouraging cross collaboration and creation in order to widen public engagement in UK arts. The BBC aims to provide context through original, fresh discussion and perspectives and is the biggest investor and creator of original arts and music programming. In 2017 Tony Hall BBC Director General, announced Culture UK, a new approach to collaboration, commissioning and creativity in partnership with Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Arts Council of Wales, the British Council and Creative Scotland. The initiative will develop UK-wide cultural festivals that can reach new audiences, support artist-led commissioning in broadcast and digital media and will convene an R&D programme that will focus on new experiences in performance, live events and exhibitions.